in the game. Keeping her eye on the prize is key, Card acknowledges: “The biggest reward is always getting a good agreement.”
Julie Stanley agrees. “In the end, the biggest reward is reaching a deal, and knowing you’ve helped make positive changes in a collective agreement that’s going to improve members’ working conditions. Every day when you answer questions, you know you’ve helped someone.” But Stanley admits it’s sometimes difficult to keep things in perspective. “Juggling school, ETFO obligations, and personal life is difficult during negotiations. You have two jobs. I could go a whole year and not be at school five days in a row, yet I was still preparing, evaluating, and doing report cards as a full- time teacher. Now I have .4 release time. That has made a huge difference. I now schedule time for myself on Tuesday nights to play volleyball.”
Comparing negotiating to a game in which everyone plays a role, Stanley explains that the team gets to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learns to recognize how they complement each other. “There’s a lot of wait and see. There’s making a wish list, and being willing to let go of certain things in order to get what you really need out of a deal,” she says. In the end, debriefing with chocolate and humour helps the Bluewater team keep its perspective. It’s a strategy few would argue against.